community meeting in the old fire shed, 1984.
Photo: June Lahm
Residents' Association was founded in 1955 as the
Scotland Island Progress Association, before
judiciously abandoning 'progress' in the mid-1970s.
Over the intervening 66 years, SIRA has been
islanders' representative body, lobbying first
Warrangah Shire, then Pittwater and now Northern
Beaches Council. What's more, the Association has
since its inception set up a fire brigade, managed an
emergency water system, community vehicle and
community hall, as well as organising numerous
festivals and countless other projects.
As we approach SIRA's
AGM, this edition of the PON is dedicated to the many
islanders who, over the last seven decades, dedicated
time and energy to SIRA. I don't suppose any of them
pleased everyone all of the time. But they sacrificed
time, energy, and sometimes popularity, doing what
they they thought best for the island. For that they
deserve our respect, and we salute them.
SIRA's Annual Report, 2020-21
SIRA committee meeting in progress
Left to right: CB Floyd, Colin Haskell, Juliet
Wills, Brian Rodgers, Tim Turpin, Sue
Armstrong, Robyn Iredale, Boyd Attewell.
Photo: Shane O'Neill
'Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in
democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when
you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of
community you want to live in'.
‘This has been a very difficult year’. With these words,
SIRA President Colin Haskell opens the SIRA annual report
for 2020-21. I doubt whether anyone trying to keep island
community life afloat during this global pandemic would
disagree. Numerous events have been planned, only to be
cancelled or postponed. Rather than meet face to face,
meetings have gone online, with all the technical and
interpersonal difficulties that can engender. It is
axiomatic that community flourishes through constant
interplay, and when interactions become sporadic we start
to rely on reserves of goodwill.
Given the circumstances, it’s impressive how much SIRA has
managed over the last twelve months. Among its principal
achievements was a solution to a problem that has long
dogged the island’s emergency water system. This has
always relied on mains pressure, which has not always been
enough to push water to the top of the island. Water would
be delivered as barely a trickle: a 12-hour booking would
scarcely start to fill a tank. At times the fire truck’s
pumps were required to augment pressure, otherwise homes
would have gone without water.
the new pump installed at the top of Bells
Below: a comparison between water bought and
rainfall (Boyd Attewell)
Fortunately a solution has been found: a
computer-controlled twin pump system above Bells, housed
in an acoustic box to reduce noise. As a result, water
pressure has been improved throughout the island. For
instance, a house at the top of the island might expect
six times the water for the same length of booking, while
one further down might get double the water it would
previously. In the words of Brian Rodgers, coordinator of
SIRA’s Emergency Water Group, ‘2021 has seen the most
significant upgrade to the water system in years’. Further
improvements to the booking system are planned.
The annual report contains a timely reminder that the
water line is not intended as the primary water supply for
the island. It is an emergency back-up, and it’s important
that we collect rainwater from our roofs wherever we can.
That said, statistics compiled by Boyd Attewell suggest
that water purchasing isn’t always a matter of choice.
2018, an exceptionally dry year, was accompanied by a
spike in water buying. More water has been bought in 2021
than in 2016 or 2017, despite this being a wetter year.
But the pandemic has meant more working from home.
In terms of SIRA achievements, special mention must also
go to the Recreation Club, under the dynamic leadership of
Robyn Iredale. It’s amazing how, among lockdowns, SIRA has
managed to take over the running of the old kindy, create
a successful café, provide residents with free dancing and
table-tennis sessions, and lay on a major arts festival.
And that’s all while (more or less) observing social
the Two Catherines' Café in operation.
Below: new surfacing on Richard Rd, completed
Meanwhile, regular SIRA activities have continued. Most of
SIRA’s work is done by sub-committees, and a lot of their
time is taken up with lobbying council on the mundane but
important issues that challenge island life.
For instance, Sharon Kinnison leads the Roads, Drainage
and Environment group, which has advocated (with
considerable success) for better roads: one only has to
admire the pristine stretches of asphalt on parts of
As a result of work by the Water and Wastewater group, led
by Fabienne d’Hautefeuille, NSW minister Melinda Pavey has
asked that Sydney Water study a feasibility study into
providing the island with sewerage.
Alec Beckett, leader of the Wharves group, is starting to
see the fruit of his labour, with the refurbishment and
forthcoming extension of the wharves. And Marie Minslow’s
focus has ranged from the ethereal to the sublunary. Thus
as Vision leader she has tried to articulate values that
unite us all, while in Waste Management she has sought
solutions to the perennial problem of getting junk off the
Thanks go to these people, the members of the committees
they lead, and the other groups and sub-committees not
It goes without saying that we owe a debt of gratitude to
the community heavyweights who power SIRA along: Colin
Haskell as president, Sharon Kinnison as vice president,
treasurer Tim Turpin and secretary Juliet Wills. But I
want to put in a word for the many who make contributions
that can go unnoticed, yet also help grease the wheels of
community. I’m thinking of those who take on such tasks as
designing and distributing posters, running the website,
monitoring Facebook, taking photos, making the tea, baking
cakes, washing up afterwards, calming frayed tempers and
putting away the chairs. There are unsung heroes in the
community who aren’t always part of the SIRA committee,
and they too deserve praise.
To end, I think it’s worth stating a few points about SIRA
which, though obvious, are often overlooked. First, SIRA
will never please everyone. However much we share a broad
vision for the island, we differ in our priorities and
Secondly, we have to trust the people we elect at the SIRA
AGM. I don’t think we can insist that they endlessly
consult the community on every little matter. When we
choose our leaders we have some sense of what they stand
for, and if we aren’t prepared to put up our hand for a
position on the committee then sometimes we have to let
those who do get on with the job.
is primarily a pressure group, not an authority. SIRA can
lobby for change, but rarely do they have the means or
power to implement it. If you are unhappy with the rules,
fees and infrastructure that govern island life then don’t
blame SIRA committee members: the chances are that the
irritants of island life affect them too.
And finally, these are volunteers who give up their time
and energy when they have other things to do. They don’t
always get it right, but at least they are trying. For
that we owe them a lot.
|The outgoing SIRA
Committee for 2020-21:
Colin Haskell – President
Sharon Kinnison – Vice President
Tim Turpin – Treasurer
Juliet Wills - Secretary
Carol Beth Floyd
The full annual report will be publicly available shortly.
Sunday, 14 November
AGM: Scotland Island Fire
Station, 10 - 12 noon
Barbecue: Catherine Park,
12 - 2 pm
SIRA's annual general
meeting will be held on Sunday, November 14, 10 am to 12
pm.The meeting will be in the fire shed. At this stage,
20 people will be able to sit inside, but there will be
more seating provided outside. An upcoming SIRA News
will provide a Zoom link, should you prefer to attend
After the AGM, you are invited to attend a gathering in
the park (with appropriate social distancing) from 12 noon
to 2 pm. Sausages (including vegetarian options), salads
and rolls will be provided. BYO drinks, but the Two
Catherines Café is also open that day, and will stay open
until 1 pm.
Nominations for the committee: closing date November
Nominations for officers: President, Vice-Presidents (2),
Secretary, and Treasurer, and for ordinary committee
members (5-10) are invited.
Anyone who is a member of SIRA can nominate other members
for the committee. If you are interested in a position,
let someone know so they can nominate you! Nominations
must be sent to the secretary (secretary@SIRA.org.au) at least
seven days before the AGM: 7 November 2021. One person can
hold up to two offices, except for both President and
Nominations must be in writing, signed by two members of
the association and accompanied by the written consent of
the candidate (which may be endorsed on the nomination
form). Nomination forms can be downloaded here.
islander Anita Bennett with part of a
collection of island photos, displayed at
the commemoration of the island's
SIRA is endeavouring to compile a collection of
photographs of historical significance to Scotland Island.
The goal is to have both a digitised and a physical
collection, with the digitised images available for public
browsing, while the physical collection will be kept
securely in the Recreation Centre. The plan is for parts
of the physical collection to be periodically or even
permanently on public display.
The last time this exercise was undertaken was in 2010. At
that point experienced curator Shar Jones, together with
Jenny Cullen, helped compile a considerable collection,
much of which was displayed as part of the festival that
marked the bicentenary of the 1810 grant of Scotland
Island to Andrew Thompson. After the exhibition was
dismantled the collection of photos became somewhat
dispersed around the island.
SIRA's hope is to recreate and even expand upon the 2010
collection. Several long-term residents, including Tom
Gibbs, Dick & Margaret Hughes and June Lahm have
already been most generous in providing photos in their
possession. Much of the 2010 collection has been
reassembled, but it is believed that some photos may still
If you have any photos that formed part of the 2010
collection, or know of their whereabouts, please let me
Alternatively, if you have any photos relating to Scotland
Island that you think are of particular significance to
the island's story and would be of interest to the general
community, I would appreciate hearing from you.
I can be reached by email on email@example.com.
remains of a fire on Cargo Beach. On
occasion they are left burning and
There is a long history of fires on the beach next to
Cargo Wharf on the western side of Scotland Island. These
have even been lit during total fire bans. Often fires
have been left unattended overnight, along with discarded
beer bottles and the like.
There is perhaps a perception that fires are permitted on
public beaches. They are not. The Rural Fires Act makes it
an offence, without lawful authority, to set a fire not
only on someone else's private land, but also on land that
belongs to a public authority or the Crown. In other
words, you are committing a criminal offence if you light
an unauthorised fire on Cargo Beach, regardless of where
the fire is situated in relation to the high water line.
Breaches of the Act can attract fines of up to $132,000
and 5 years' imprisonment.
Besides the legality of these fires, they pose a real
danger to the island, given the overhanging Casuarinas at
Cargo Beach. What's more, the noise, smoke and detritus
are a nuisance to local residents. Although it may be
tempting to light a fire for the purposes of cooking or
socialising, please don't.
Would you like to be a Daytime Bookworm?
Evening book groups have been thriving for years on
Scotland Island. Members share a love of the printed word
or audio books, fact or fiction, discussing the work and
what they liked or didn’t like. Now, with the Recreation
Centre up and running, it occurred to us that it could be
the venue for a new group that meets once a month during
There are decisions to be made: which day, 11am
start?, ideas on the format, book selection
(personal choice or discussion of a single title), will
books be available for others to borrow etc?
The plan is to have a limit on numbers so everyone gets a
If you are interested in joining, please message us. Your
input will be welcomed.
Jane Rich 0421 549 370 or Rosemary Haskell 0410 500 704.
Scotland Island Community
Saturday 6 November, 2 - 4
Saturday 20 November, 2 -
Benns (1838 - 1920):
an Indigenous midwife and 'Queen of Scotland
Bouffier (1857 - 1940),
whom Scotland Island's Catherine Park is
Scotland Island Recreation Club, under the stewardship of
Robyn Iredale, is working towards creating a performance,
due to be staged on the island late next year, focusing on
the lives of Catherine Benns and Catherine Bouffier. Both
women's lives helped create the Scotland Island we know
today, and are remembered in the name of the café held
regularly in Catherine Park.
To kick-start the process, SIRA is presenting two talks on
island and Pittwater history. Besides teaching offshore
residents about local history, these will generate ideas
that will help the playwright accurately reflect the past
and character of Scotland Island. These events will
include plenty of time for discussion, and will be
offshore residents' first opportunity to shape and
participate in this exciting exercise in community
The first talk will focus on the area's Indigenous
history. Guests will include: Neil Evers, Chair of the
Aboriginal Support Group - Manly Warringah Pittwater, and
local historians Paul Griffiths and Craig Burton. Neil is
the grandson of Catherine Benns' nephew.
The second talk will examine the island's European
history, including how it came to be settled and
subdivided. It will include contributions from islander
and historian Craig Burton, plus Vivianne Byrnes,
great-granddaughter of Catherine Bouffier.
Afternoon tea will be served at both events.
In order to be COVID-compliant, registration for these
events is essential. Participants must be fully vaccinated
(unless exempt). Please bring a mask and a phone to check
To register for the 6 November event, click here.
To register for the 20 November event, click here.
Scotland Island Community
Most Saturdays, 3 - 5 pm
With COVID restrictions
lifting, table tennis sessions have recommenced. Groups
meet most Saturdays.
Anyone over 12 is welcome,
provided that those over 16 are fully vaccinated (unless
exempt). Please bring a mask to wear indoors, although
it may be removed during physical exercise.
Sunday 7 November, 9.30 -
Everyone is welcome to come
and help restore and regenerate habitat for our local
Bring gloves, hat and
drink. Enjoy gentle exercise, meet someone new, ask
questions of enthusiastic gardeners and take home a
A perfect outing for the
Come any time, 9.30 - 12.00 to help put in baby plants.
Location: near emergency
access gate to Catherine Park.
Covid-safe protocol will be followed, including
check-in, 1.5m distancing and sanitizing.
Cheers, Sharon Kinnison
Sunday 14 November, 10 - 1
pm (extended for SIRA's AGM)
Sunday 28 November, 10 -
Kids and double
vaxxed adults are welcome!
The 28 November café will
include stalls selling goods made by islanders. Get in
early and do some Christmas shopping of hand-crafted
Further makers' stalls
will also be at our 5 and 12 December island cafés.
Scotland Island Recreation
Friday 19 November, 5 - 8
Saturday 20 November, 10
- 12 noon
Fully vaccinated brigade members are welcome to this
training session at the fire station.
Sunday 21 November, 9 -
Please register your attendance using the SIRFB website.
COVID protocols will be observed, including the wearing of
Saturday 27 November, 7
- 9 pm
party: please bring a plate and a bottle to share
NB:COVID protocols apply:
- everyone aged 16 or older must be fully
vaccinated (unless exempt)
- Please bring a mask.
Recreation Centre, Sunday 5 December
Sunday 5 December, 2- 4
Family and friends are
invited to enjoy music provided by local young and
Come and watch your
neighbours, and the children of your neighbours, show
what they can do.
Please bring a plate
Missed out on a previous
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Festival of Making,
expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the
views of the Scotland Island Residents Association
(SIRA), or the Western Pittwater Community